Along Came Poly


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Along Came Polly
The Masked Reviewer

If there's one thing that the world needs today more than anything else, it would have to be romantic comedies.  The Masked Reviewer is sure that if there were only more romantic comedies, there wouldn't be as much death, disease, and suffering...or at least if there were as much death, disease, and suffering, we wouldn't care as much because we'd be having a good time at our romantic comedies. 

And thankfully Along Came Polly came along, because it is, in fact, a romantic comedy.

Without giving too much away, the film is about a guy who falls for a woman and then tries to get together with her and things go well for a while until they have an obstacle which they have to overcome, thereby bringing them closer together in the end when true love triumphs over all.  Not only that, but this film also features the twist that two of the characters are, like, total opposites.  Will opposites attract?  Wow!  It's deep on so many levels.

Ben Stiller stars in the film.  You may remember him from such romantic comedies as There's Something About Mary, Duplex, Keeping the Faith, and Meet the Parents.  If you're a Hollywood studio and you need someone to play a nice guy who occasionally freaks out, Ben Stiller is "da man."  Please note that, in response to reader feedback, the Masked Reviewer is placing punctuation inside the quotation marks in the above sentence.  That's because the Masked Reviewer is here for you.

Jennifer Aniston, who you may remember as TV's Rachel on "Friends," also appears in this film.  She plays the paramour, the object of Ben Stiller's affection, and/or he hot babe.  Jennifer Aniston also appeared in Office Space and Bruce Almighty, as well as in other films in which she also appeared. 

Some critics of Jennifer Aniston's appearances in films in which she has appeared in have suggested that she often plays the same kind of character, often similar to her character on "Friends."  While her appearance as the (extremely) titular Polly in this film is vaguely evocative of her thespianic efforts as Rachel, Aniston is actually surprisingly good and funny as Polly.  She plays a non-committal and flighty waitress, but develops a funny and interesting character in a lot of subtle ways.

That's not to say that Ben Stiller isn't good.  While he also often appears in his appearances in films as the same kind of character, he has a charm and likeability about himself that works well for romantic comedies (including this one) which may explain why he's in every romantic comedy ever made.  Okay, that is perhaps a bit of an overstatement.  But he's good in this.

And not only are Ben Stiller and Jennifer Aniston great, but every single supporting actor turns in a splendid performance as well.  Standing out above the rest is Phillip Seymour Hoffman, who is above-the-rim as Ben Stiller's friend in a part that he (or Jack Black) was born to play.  We don't see enough of Phillip Seymour Hoffman in comedic roles, probably because it takes too long to write out his name.  Why not just go by Seymour?  How many Seymour's are working in Hollywood these days?  Him and Jane Seymour.  And when's the last time you heard of Jane Seymour doing anything?  In fact, Phillip Seymour Hoffman could even go with "C-More," which would be much easier to type.  Maybe even "C-Mo." 

In any event, Alec Baldwin also gives a snappy and fun performance as Ben Stiller's Long Islander boss.  Debra Messing from "Will and Grace" (she plays Grace) has a relatively small role that's not very deep, but she manages to flesh it out into an interesting character.  Bryan Brown (from F/X 2) plays a smarmy daredevil millionaire, and also brings more to the part than one would expect.  Finally, Hank Azaria (of "Simpsons" fame) plays a hunky beach comber.  Hank buffed up for the role, and looks like he's ready to play a Chippendale's dancer for his next movie.  Even though he only has a few minutes of screen time, he's hilarious and...fear not...he uses a goofy accent (French). 

What else do you need to know about the film?  It features a lot of gross-out humor.  It seems like an odd choice, but some demographics genius at some studio must have learned that combining romantic stories with farts equals box office gold.   The gross stuff is occasionally funny, but if you don't like that kind of humor (remember the toilet scene in Dumb and Dumber?) then you'll probably have a tough time sitting through this film.  There are other gross-out attempts in the film...some are funnier than others. 

Animal lovers will take issue with Polly's pet, a ferret.  He's blind, you see (the ferret doesn't) and throughout the movie he runs along at full speed and bashes his tiny little furry head into things.  At the screening the Masked Reviewer attended, the credits weren't shown, so the Masked Reviewer can't assure you that the Humane Society made sure that no ferrets were harmed in the making of the movie. For people who love animals, those scenes will raise your fur.  Usually those people aren't particularly disturbed by images of people getting beaten-up or killed, but that's a different conversation.  If you can't stand to see a ferret bonked on the head, you'll want to pass on this one.

All in all, Along Came Polly is surprisingly entertaining.  The writing isn't particularly good, but the performances are.  The mixture of low-brow and character humor manages to balance fairly well, and there's probably something in the film that will make almost anyone laugh (except for ferret-lovers).  It's predictable, yet cute, although the mixture of simple charm and toilet jokes also assures that people will be turned off at times, too.  A fine little date movie, especially if you like any of the actors involved, as they all give fun performances.


Expectation from the Title: After the countries of the world united to create the World's Largest Cracker, no one was ready for the humongous invincible planet-crushing alien parrot who appeared to chow down...on destruction.

Mother's Rule (Always Say Something Good About Everything):  Everyone is cute in this film.

The Pros: Fun performances by every member of the cast, some good laughs.

The Cons: Strange mixture of gross humor, character humor, and slapstick.  While there's something in it for everyone, there's also something in it that everyone won't like.  The story feels overdone and predictable.


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